Pet sitter talks about animal caring

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Up until a few years ago, Diane Wilcox had a regular desk job. When she realized she was unable to sit at a desk all day, she quit to start her own business. Since she loves animals and enjoys helping people, she began her own pet and errand service. She said it is the best move she has ever made.

"I feel like this is my calling. Life is too short to not do something you love," she said.

What is rewarding about what you do?

People can go away on trips or when they are gone to work and they can feel totally confident that I'm taking care of their pets. The animals are always appreciative. I always get a wagging tail and a lick.

What the things you do for your clients?

Every home is different. When I first started, I did errands and pet service. I used to do grocery shopping, but I don't anymore. I mostly do pets. I feed them, give them fresh water, clean up after them, walk them, take them to the vet or grooming appointments. I get the mail and newspaper, take out garbage cans on garbage day. I water and look at the house and make sure it hasn't been broken into. Some animals are better off going to the kennel, but some get freaked out, so they are able to stay in the comfort of their own homes.

What is the strangest thing someone has asked you to do?

I would say (when someone) asked me to come over and pick up the dogs' bedding and wash it.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy taking care of the pets. The other day was a beautiful, sunny day. I was out walking a dog and I was thinking, "I get paid for this."

What is your favorite pet?

My favorite pets are dogs.

Which is your favorite breed?


Have you had a funny or memorable experience?

I have a client who has a Persian cat that is mean. Whenever I go to her house, she leaves a broom by the door. I have to use it to protect myself because she will attack me. One day, she chased me around the island in the kitchen. I have to tell her, "I'm here to feed you, not harm you."

Where would you like to see your business in five years?

This is a seven-day-a-week, 365-day-a-year job, so I can't say I can't work a Saturday. Right now I have a gal who works for me. I would like to get to a point where I have more people working with me.

Do you ever feel like you are running around crazy? How do you deal with it?

Yes, all the time. What I do now is usually at night I look one day ahead and look at my schedule. If I go and look too far out, it gets overwhelming. I've learned to take it one day at a time.

Do you have to deal with wild pets and how do you handle them?

I do. It is typically the larger breeds like the labs. (In the past) I was around a trainer so I know how to handle them. I'm confident around all kinds of dogs and their behavior. I need to learn how to be more confident around aggressive dogs like pit bulls.

Do you ever get too attached to people's animals?

I do. I've had a lot last year where older dogs passed away. I've had a client for the past two years, her dog was only seven and had heart problems. During his last few months, I would have to check him twice a day because my client worked in Sacramento. That was hard when he passed away.

What is the best advice you can give someone who wants to do this?

Be ready to work a lot of hours and you have to really cater to people. They have different needs and you have to learn to be flexible with people and their pets.